Most children to be born outside of marriage by 2016

Most children will be born to unmarried parents by 2016, new figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest.

The percentage of children born to unmarried mothers has soared from 11 per cent in 1979 and 25 per cent in 1988, to an all time high of 47.5 per cent last year.

It is expected to exceed 50 per cent by 2016.  

The 2011 census revealed that the percentage of couples in the UK who are married is less than half.

Former Children's minister Tim Loughton told the Daily Telegraph the Government should introduce tax breaks for married couples to halt the trend.  

"If people are prepared to make a public declaration to each other in front of their friends and family they are more likely to stay together. Without marriage people drift in and out of relationships very easily," he said.

"In families where parents break up children do less well at school, are more likely to suffer mental health problems and are more likely to have substance abuse problems.

"The government needs to send a very clear message that it supports marriage. That's why married tax breaks are so important."